At age 73, Norman Leenhouts is finally vacating his office at Home Properties, where he served as co-CEO and chairman of the Rochester, N.Y.-based real estate firm for nearly 15 years until his retirement three years ago. But Leenhouts isn't packing his bags and heading to the yacht for well deserved lazy days in the sun. Instead, he's headed to his new office on the first floor of Home's headquarters where he'll help run a family business called Broadstone Real Estate, which manages 2.4 million square feet of commercial space.
Leenhouts, who continues to serve as co-chairman of Home's board, estimates keeping a 40-hour-a-week schedule while working at Broadstone and several other ventures. "Retirement is really not in my vocabulary," Leenhouts jokes. "We old real estate guys don't like to fade away. It's not that I don't enjoy playing golf and fishing, but not everyday, that's for sure."
A number of multifamily executives couldn't agree more, including Norman's twin brother Nelson, who is equally as active in retirement. Even after spending 20-plus years in the industry, real estate leaders just can't say goodbye.
Just ask Bart Harvey, who stepped down as head of Columbia, Md.-based Enterprise Communities this past March. "If you spent a career working on something you really care about, it's in your blood to do it. It keeps you healthier and more mentally engaged," Harvey says. The 59-year-old isn't just talk. He's on the board of a Baltimore-based assisted living and nursing home nonprofit; involved with an environmental entity called The Blue Moon Fund; and working the political scene (at press time, he was campaigning for Barack Obama). And should a new full-time opportunity come his way—one where he can help make a difference for a cause he believes in—he just might take the job.
But the life of retired execs isn't all work and no play. No doubt, Leonard Wood, who retired a year ago from his post as president and CEO of Atlanta-based Wood Partners, stays active in the business. He assists at his family-owned real estate firm and serves on a number of boards. But the 62-yearold now works only 10 to 20 hours a week, which leaves some time for R&R.
"Real estate is a rewarding industry," Wood says. "The people in it are fun, good people, and so, in some respects, it is hard to leave. On the other hand, it's fun to have a different approach to your life after 30 years." The biggest difference in Wood's daily routine: He wakes up with a list of 10 things to do as opposed to 100. As a result, he has more time to spend with his young grandchildren and to enjoy his favorite hobbies?hiking, golf, fishing, and hunting.
Likewise, Harvey is enjoying a less rigorous schedule. "Everyone said, 'You will be bored within a week' because of the way I used to work, and I haven't had a boring day," he says. Right after he retired, he and his family took a two-week trip to South Africa, an outing he'd never had time for as head of Enterprise. And now, every day, he gets to spend quality time with his three children, ages 10, 12, and 14. He attends their countless sporting events and drives them to school. "It's still an early rise every morning, but I do have time for a good long cup of coffee with the paper, so that is great," Harvey says. What more could one want?
Calling all Brainiacs
Check out these top 10 retirement spots rich with cultural centers and learning opportunities.
|Ann Arbor, Mich.||Visit the University of Michigan's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.|
|Berkeley, Calif.||Stroll through the University of California's Botanical Gardens.|
|Boulder, Colo.||Catch one of the many outdoor music festivals, where you'll heareverything from Bach to rock 'n' roll.|
|Brookline, Mass.||Participate in an adult art class at the Brookline Arts Center.|
|Chapel Hill, N.C.||Paddle out in a kayak and watch the stars with an astronomyprofessor from the Morehead Planetarium and Science Center.|
|Hoboken, N.J.||Journey across the Hudson River to Manhattan's attractions or stay close to home and visit the Hoboken Historical Museum.|
|Lake Oswego, Ore.||Tour the Willamette River in an antique railcar.|
|Reston, Va.||Spend a winter afternoon at the Reston Town Center ice rink.|
|Upper St. Clair, Pa.||Take a class at one of 29 area colleges, such as Carnegie Mellon.|
|West Lafayette, Ind.||Enjoy a night at the ballet hosted by Purdue University.|
|Source:U.S. News & World Report|